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NIHAL SINGH KAIRON (1863-1928), a pioneer of women`s education in the Punjab, was born on 22 December 1863 at Kairori, a village in Amritsar district. His father, Gulab Singh, a deeply religious person, had three sons, Nihal Singh being the youngest of them. Nihal Singh had no formal schooling, and travelled with his brother, Tarlok Singh, to Malaya (Malaysia) while still very young. He joined the Royal Artillery at Hong Kong, but soon secured his release and returned to his village in the Punjab to work for community welfare and reform. He lectured at Singh Sabha divans.

He founded a boys` school in his village and took a leading part in establishing a Sikh society called Majha Khalsa Diwan. The first meeting of the Diwan, held on 1719 February 1905 at Tarn Taran, was largely attended by people from all parts of the Punjab. A concrete outcome of this conclave was a girls` school established at Kairori. The girls school was a novelty in the area and the founder, Nihal Singh, encountered considerable opposition, but he persisted with his plans and in May 1913 laid the cornerstone of a boarding house for girls as well. Accompanied by Baba Dial Singh and a group of students from his school, Nihal Singh visited Malaya, Hong Kong and Shanghai to raise funds for the school and the hostel attached to it.

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, ruler of the princely state of Patiala, performed, on 14 March 1916, the opening ceremony of the hostel which celebrating the name of a member of the Patiala family was called Mata Sahib Kaur Bhujharigan Ashram. Nihal Singh also instituted at the school an annual women`s conference which became an active agent of social reform. Bhai Nihal Singh died on 20 November 1928. One of his sons, Partap Singh Kairori, took active part in India`s struggle for freedom, and won renown as a political leader.

References :

1. Parcharak, Dayal Singh, Jivan Bhai Nihal Singh Kairon. n.d.
2. Mubarak Singh, ed., Kairon. Ludhiana, 1963
3. Teja Singh and Nanak Singh, ed.. Silver Jubilee Book. Amrilsar, 1935

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